Every organization should conduct a background check on potential new hires. It’s not always easy as candidates may come from places where information is difficult to verify and costly to obtain. However, hiring a dishonest employee can cost much more in monetary and reputational losses than the cost of a background check. We all know stories of deceitful employees with access to an organization’s treasure (money, information, assets, etc.) that caused significant loss and/or embarrassment.
A background check is a verification of information from the candidate’s application or background information form. This can include authenticating the candidate’s CV, past employment, education/transcripts, criminal record, references, etc. In our experience the amount of false or exaggerated information provided by potential employees, is surprising.
Unfortunately, many employers are reluctant to give negative feedback on former employees (even those that have committed fraud) and will usually only verify position and dates of employment. How do you overcome this frustration? Here is a simple, yet effective method to overcome this unwillingness. Simply ask, “Is this person eligible for rehire?” The former employer can say “yes” or “no” without violating the candidate’s rights. If they do say “no” it’s a red flag indicating more digging needs to be done.
How do you obtain additional information? Step one is to ask the former employer why the candidate is not eligible for rehire. Sometimes employers are so angry they will give hints about what happened. If they still refuse, you may try the following:
1. Locate and interview the candidate’s former colleagues.
2. Find a third party that did business with candidate and inquire about the candidate’s character, reputation, etc.
3. Ask for, and interview additional references.
4. Ask the candidate why they are not eligible for rehire. Compare what they tell you to the information obtained from other sources.
5. Check local news sources for past scandals regarding the former employer and/or the candidate.
6. Talk to your trusted employees. Chances are if the candidate is local, they will know something about them.
7. If after collecting additional information you are still unsure, do not hire the candidate out of an abundance of caution.
A background check may seem to be a waste of money, but the reality is, “You can either pay now, or pay later.”